In our monthly “Interior Designer Crush” series, we talk to an interior designer we are crushing on and ask them 10 questions to which we’re dying to have answers. Today, we visit with Marjorie Johnston of Marjorie Johnston & Co. Interiors and Design and her boutique storefront, JoJo Home, in Birmingham’s Mountain Brook Village. She savors the world around her with a curious, youthful enthusiasm and incorporates flashes from her internal catalog of beauty into her clients’ living spaces, as well as their parties, in ways that complement their needs and personalities. We asked Marjorie to describe her aesthetic, let us in on some tricks of the trade and give us a glimpse of some of her favorite projects. We hope you enjoy!
What is your design aesthetic and how do you translate that to a client’s home?
The first words that come to mind in describing my design aesthetic would be simple, pretty, classic, comfortable and personal. The ultimate goal for every client is for their home to reflect their own personal style, and my job is to help bring that out and, often times, to help to define it. I try to observe how each client lives in their home, spends their free time and what their priorities for their homes might be. And with that information, we set about creating beautiful spaces for them to enjoy.
Where are your favorite spots to find next-level decor for a client’s home?
Birmingham is full of fabulous finds and wares to outfit the home. Shops such as Henhouse Antiques, Tricia’s Treasures and Circa are great resources for antiques and quality furnishings. I have long-standing friendships with the shop owners and that is part of the fun of shopping there. Another dear pal, Alice Schleusner — a true expert in the oriental rug business — has mentored along some strong talent here in Birmingham. I look forward with anticipation to the return of A’mano, as it always had unique art and accessories. Our own inventory at JoJo Home is my version of a curated collection, so it’s fun to include some of my personal finds here. Then there are the vast online resources, which present both an opportunity and a challenge in my business. For my “fluffing” service — when a homeowner needs help getting ready for an event or party — my go-to sources are Leaf & Petal, Table Matters, Whole Foods and Anthropologie.
Are there any trends you’re loving at the moment and, alternately, any timeless aspects of design that you cling to?
Generally speaking, I do not consider my work to be particularly trendy but it is nice to see color making a comeback. As a designer, it opens up an entire world when you get to introduce rich, deep colors in texture and pattern against neutral “bones.” As far as what I cling to from timeless design, beautiful drapery always seems to complete a room, in my opinion. Not with heavy valences or elaborate trimmings necessarily but yards of fabric framing a window is a personal favorite look. It’s also nice to see that pretty pieces of old furniture have not been completely replaced with new, lacquered things! Sometimes there is no substitute for the patina of antique wood.
What brings you the most professional joy?
In two words: happy clients!
How does Birmingham’s design scene differ from the rest of the country?
Southerners love their homes. In Birmingham, specifically, interiors are of particular significance and are, therefore, supported by great local talent, craftsmen and shops. There is a simple sophistication to the aesthetic in town and it’s fun to see that interpreted in projects such as the 2016 Alabama Symphony Orchestra Decorator’s ShowHouse in which I just participated.
Where do you get your inspiration?
For me, it’s simply a matter of opening my eyes! Images in print, Instagram, travels, Pinterest, gardens, nature, clothing, film, food and architecture all feed the imagination and create an internal catalog of style to draw from. Sometimes, I will find myself recalling a detail from years ago that might pop up as the inspiration for a current project. I am inspired by the past, present and future, which is one exciting reason to keep working!
Who have been your industry mentors and role models and why?
My most current industry crush is the work of Jeffrey Bilhuber. It is quirky yet classic, bold with color yet mellow with comfort. Billy Baldwin and Sister Parish wrote the book on interior design over 50 years ago. Then there are cultural icons like Ralph Lauren, Hermes and Calvin Klein who have creatively blended fashion with interiors.
Share one designer secret with us regular folk.
Every room needs four lamps, something black and something tacky.
What are your predictions for interior design in the next 10 to 15 years?
The crystal ball is not my strong suit but after visiting the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club Decorator Show House in New York in May, I picked up on an interesting trend in the use of technology. And I’m not just talking wireless speakers! Victoria Hagan, one of my favorites, used LED fairy lighting sewn into the drapery!
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
“Simple Style for Good Living.” That’s on the window of my design studio and shop! Stop by JoJo Home to check us out!
Thank you, Marjorie, for sharing your talents and insights. To view more of her fabulous work or to contact her, visit Marjorie Johnston & Co. Interiors and Design.
Find even more home design inspiration in our “Home & Decor” section. Click here!